It wasn't until this last trip that I realized how much I have been traveling by plane lately. Since Christmas, I've been on 5 round trip flights totaling 12 planes. It also wasn’t until this last trip that I truly appreciated how much easier it is for me to fly being 115 pounds lighter than my 355 pound former-self.
I’ve been attending bi-monthly gatherings with a group that discusses body image, among other topics, and this past week someone said something that really rang true. In not these exact words, but with the same sentiment, “Sometimes your body stops losing for a period of time so your brain can “catch up” inside to your new outside image.” It’s so true.
I have been bumping around in the 235-249 range for the last 9 months, but until recently I hadn’t come to terms that I can no longer hide behind “Fat Emily” anymore, well, because I’m getting less and less fat every day.
Of course there are lots of instances I could use as an example, but since it’s the freshest example in my mind, let’s have a conversation on how plane travel has changed for me over the last 4 years. And 115 pounds.
No more seat belt extenders
For those who have ever needed one of these, you know it is the most embarrassing thing in the world to have to ask a flight attendant for a seatbelt extender over your neighboring row-mate, who has assuredly already realized you are encroaching on their precious seat space.
My strategy was to always whisper to the attendant at the front of the plane upon boarding and usually they would be able to hand me one right there. Some were empathetic about my “situation” and others gave disapproving looks. Often, I would take the extender with me on the outbound flight so I wouldn’t have to ask for the extender coming back and leave it on the plane on my return. I do still have one or two extenders that never got returned.
Exit Row Seating without Fear
Though asking for an extender on a crowded plane is embarrassing, nothing took the embarrassing cake like the time I was kicked out of an exit row. I was happily seated in my favored spot on the plane (long legs unite) and asked the attendant for an extender. He promptly said if I was to need an extender, I was not allowed to sit in the exit row because I wasn’t “capable” of the duties that came with that coveted seat position. I was mortified, and had to move.
Let the water flow
As a larger passenger, I would withhold from drinking liquids before and during a flight. I refused in-flight service just to avoid using the bathrooms on board simply because I didn’t fit. Not only could I not comfortably urinate on a plane at 355 pounds, I hated walking down the aisle, bumping into every person seated in the aisle as I passed by. Now, I drink so much water by nature that I pee on just about every flight over an hour.
No Table Trouble
Not only did I need an extender at 355 pounds, I couldn’t make use of the tray table in my seat either. My stomach was so large that it couldn’t come down all the way. So, if I did want to get a drink, I had to hold it in my lap the whole time. Nowadays, I always use my tray table and when I can even comfortably fully extend the tray towards me, if needed.
No Space Encroaching
I no longer worry that I am “hanging” over a seat into someone else’s space. In fact, during recent flights *I* was the one being encroached on (not by a larger passenger, just two jerks who were armrest hogs). I can now confidently take my seat and know my ass or hips won’t be sliding into the person’s seat next to me.
Don’t have to worry about bullying gate agents
With all the stories you hear through the news and social media about larger passengers being bullied at the gate in regards to being asked to purchase two seats, I was constantly in fear of being asked to do the same. I would have had no recourse either. At well over 300 pounds how could I argue I didn’t need two seats? Now, I don’t even think about it when I approach the gate to board.
I don’t necessarily believe the old saying, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” But I have to say these small milestones of being able to live a normal, healthy life sure do taste just as good as a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting!